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National teaching award for Otago frog biologist


Thursday 5 August 2010 2:57pm

Phil Bishop Profile Photo University of Otago Zoology Senior Lecturer and frog advocate Dr Phil Bishop has received a Sustained Excellence Award at this year’s national awards for top tertiary teachers.

Minister for Tertiary Education the Hon Steven Joyce presented Dr Bishop and his fellow recipients with their awards, valued at $20,000, during the Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards ceremony at Parliament last night.

Established by the Government in 2001, the awards recognise and encourage excellence in tertiary teaching while also providing an opportunity for teachers to further their careers and share their good practice with others.

A key focus of the awards is to identify and reward teaching practices that are student-focused and committed to promoting effective learning.

Dr Bishop’s profile cites his passion for education and frogs as being intertwined in nearly every element of his professional life and notes that his dedication to teaching – from first-year to PhD level – is illustrated by an impressive list of initiatives.

These include the Biology Button (electronic resource centre), the Gap Junction (email discussion board), the electronic comparative dissection guide and an externally funded Internationalising the Curriculum project. He also helped design a lecture theatre that facilitates an interactive, student-focused approach to teaching large groups.

The profile notes that this fits with Dr Bishop’s belief that students should drive their own learning, with him as the passenger “assisting so they see the landmarks, understand the journey and have deeper interpretations when they get to their destination”.

It also records how colleagues describe him as “innovative, highly interactive and engaging”, “drawing students into his subject” and that his students sum him up as an “awesome dude!”

University Vice-Chancellor Professor David Skegg says he is delighted by Dr Bishop’s success in the national awards and warmly congratulates him.

“Over the years a remarkable number of Otago academics from diverse disciplines have had their excellent teaching recognised through these awards. Their success reflects the University’s emphasis on encouraging innovative approaches to research-led, high-quality teaching for our students.”

More information about Dr Bishop can be found at